Author Topic: When otherwise friendly family members stop speaking  (Read 2580 times)

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Ceallach

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When otherwise friendly family members stop speaking
« on: February 23, 2013, 07:32:32 PM »
My brother & sister-in-law were particularly protective of their baby daughter (first child), to the extent that they would barely let anybody else even hold her.  They've gradually relaxed, and now that she's 1 year old have gone so far as to allow our parents to babysit Abby (at our parents house) for a couple of hours in the afternoon each week, giving them some much needed alone time. 

All was going well until a few weeks ago, when they asked our parents to have Abby one evening while they went to a friends house for a group gathering.  They said they would pick Abby up from our parents house at 9pm.    Our parents had Abby ready to go at 9pm, already for bed so they could take her straight home to sleep.   At 9:20 my sister-in-law called to say they were slightly late leaving but would be there in 20 minutes.   Unfortunately, by now Abby was getting upset - she was tired and had been away from her parents for longer than ever before.  They eventually arrived at 10:30pm, by which time Abby had been screaming (despite my parents best efforts to settle her) for over an hour.   My Dad was absolutely furious - not because they were late, but because Abby had been so upset and he didn't think it was fair on her.   My brother & SIL couldn't understand why Dad was angry, and basically have indicated that they won't ask him to babysit again if he's going to react that way.    They haven't spoken to my parents since, nor have my parents reached out to them.

My question is this:   as an uninvolved family member, should my role be switzerland?   I'm not going to stick my nose in, but I'm wondering if I should say anything when the topic arises, which it will.  If anything I'd consider a gentle nudge towards understanding and reconciliation.    My Dad and my brother can both be quite stubborn and arrogant.   So something that's quite minor could turn into a lengthy and unnecessary estrangement.   It's silly because neither of them are actually upset - they're all basically over it - but neither will be the first to talk about it, they'll just assume the other one is still mad and avoid each other.    ::)   I know from past experience that as soon as they do talk to each other, everything will be fine again.   Thoughts?   
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CrochetFanatic

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Re: When otherwise friendly family members stop speaking
« Reply #1 on: February 23, 2013, 07:44:07 PM »
It might be best to stay out of it, and to say that you're not taking sides if anyone asks.

Kids that age are going to have meltdowns and separation anxiety.  People sometimes get held up.  Even if they had arrived on time, the baby still could have done this.  Babies can't tell time, so they don't really know the difference anyway.  Late parents or not, meltdowns happen when they happen.  My guess is that the extended period of screaming might have worn on your dad's nerves, and made him more inclined to snapping than he would have been.  The baby's parents might have reacted with hostility because they felt ambushed as soon as they stepped in the door.  Either way, I would do my best to stay neutral if I was in your position.

NyaChan

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Re: When otherwise friendly family members stop speaking
« Reply #2 on: February 23, 2013, 07:48:46 PM »
I'd stay out of it, at most maybe say if they bring up the fight, "I wish you would all talk it out and try to make up.  But really, that is between you and OtherParty."

Roe

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Re: When otherwise friendly family members stop speaking
« Reply #3 on: February 23, 2013, 08:03:26 PM »
Stay out of it unless either one specifically asks for your advice.  If your brother asks what you think, feel free to be honest. ;)  I had to tell my brother "You and dad have issues getting along because you are both stubborn."  My brother agreed and I helped him look at the situation from the other POV.  I did the same for our dad when he called asking my advice.

However, I wouldn't have said a word without being asked.

m2kbug

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Re: When otherwise friendly family members stop speaking
« Reply #4 on: February 24, 2013, 02:48:39 PM »
I wouldn't be opposed to bringing it up myself, or just wait until someone else brings it up, either way.  I would push them to reconciling.  You already seem to be kind of in the middle of this anyway, so why not speak up?  Stay as neutral as possible and try not to get too heavily involved, but certainly nudging them towards reconciliation seems reasonable to me as daughter and sister.  Maybe you could have everyone over for dinner or go out to eat and see if that closes the gap a little easier.  I don't know the family dynamics, but thinking if this was something between my sister and our parents, just getting everyone together for a family event would help close the gap.

TootsNYC

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Re: When otherwise friendly family members stop speaking
« Reply #5 on: February 24, 2013, 02:59:59 PM »
  My Dad and my brother can both be quite stubborn and arrogant.   So something that's quite minor could turn into a lengthy and unnecessary estrangement.   It's silly because neither of them are actually upset - they're all basically over it - but neither will be the first to talk about it, they'll just assume the other one is still mad and avoid each other.    ::)   I know from past experience that as soon as they do talk to each other, everything will be fine again.   Thoughts?

This is what I'd say if the subject came up. Some variation on what you've said here--this is silly, you both know that you are both stubborn.

And I also think your role is to simply act as though it never happened. Neither has announced to you that they are permanently estranged, right? I'm guessing they've both complained, or you've said, "spoken to dad/brother?" And they've said, "No, bcs of the dust-up."

So I think you can absolutely invite them to some sort of family gathering thing.

TootsNYC

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Re: When otherwise friendly family members stop speaking
« Reply #6 on: February 24, 2013, 03:02:51 PM »
again--did she dictate that date? Or simply propose it?

citadelle

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Re: When otherwise friendly family members stop speaking
« Reply #7 on: February 24, 2013, 04:28:05 PM »
again--did she dictate that date? Or simply propose it?
Wrong thread?  :)